• synonyms


See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
  1. an excavation made in the earth in which to bury a dead body.
  2. any place of interment; a tomb or sepulcher: a watery grave.
  3. any place that becomes the receptacle of what is dead, lost, or past: the grave of unfulfilled ambitions.
  4. death: O grave, where is thy victory?
  1. have one foot in the grave, to be so frail, sick, or old that death appears imminent: It was a shock to see my uncle looking as if he had one foot in the grave.
  2. make (one) turn/turn overin one's grave, to do something to which a specified dead person would have objected bitterly: This production of Hamlet is enough to make Shakespeare turn in his grave.

Origin of grave1

before 1000; Middle English; Old English græf; cognate with German Grab; see grave3
Related formsgrave·less, adjectivegrave·like, adjectivegrave·ward, grave·wards, adverb, adjective


[greyv; for 4, 6 also grahv]
adjective, grav·er, grav·est for 1–3, 5.
  1. serious or solemn; sober: a grave person; grave thoughts.
  2. weighty, momentous, or important: grave responsibilities.
  3. threatening a seriously bad outcome or involving serious issues; critical: a grave situation; a grave illness.
  4. Grammar.
    1. unaccented.
    2. spoken on a low or falling pitch.
    3. noting or having a particular accent (`) indicating originally a comparatively low pitch (as in French père), distinct syllabic value (as in English belovèd), etc. (opposed to acute).
  5. (of colors) dull; somber.
  1. the grave accent.

Origin of grave2

1535–45; < Middle French < Latin gravis; akin to Greek barýs heavy
Related formsgrave·ly, adverbgrave·ness, nounun·grave·ly, adverb
Can be confusedgravely gravelly


See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
1. sedate, staid, thoughtful. Grave, sober, solemn refer to the condition of being serious in demeanor or appearance. Grave indicates a weighty dignity, or the character, aspect, demeanor, speech, etc., of one conscious of heavy responsibilities or cares, or of threatening possibilities: The jury looked grave while studying the evidence. Sober (from its original sense of freedom from intoxication, and hence temperate, staid, sedate) has come to indicate absence of levity, gaiety, or mirth, and thus to be akin to serious and grave: as sober as a judge; a sober expression on one's face. Solemn implies an impressive seriousness and deep earnestness: The minister's voice was solemn as he announced the text.


1. frivolous, gay.


verb (used with object), graved, grav·en or graved, grav·ing.
  1. to carve, sculpt, or engrave.
  2. to impress deeply: graven on the mind.

Origin of grave3

before 1000; Middle English graven, Old English grafan; cognate with German graben
Related formsgrav·er, noun


verb (used with object), graved, grav·ing. Nautical.
  1. to clean and apply a protective composition of tar to (the bottom of a ship).

Origin of grave4

1425–75; late Middle English; perhaps akin to gravel


[grah-vey; Italian grah-ve]Music.
  1. slow; solemn.
  1. slowly; solemnly.

Origin of grave5

1575–85; < Italian grave < Latin gravis heavy; see grave2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for grave

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • “I mean a man sad and grave as the monks of Beaulieu,” said the jester.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • Then he set to work and made himself a grave which was to endure for all time.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • See what grave reflections an innocent subject will produce!

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • Excuse me, my dear friend, for these grave soliloquies, as I may call them.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • What way will I live and the girls with me, and I an old woman looking for the grave?

British Dictionary definitions for grave


  1. a place for the burial of a corpse, esp beneath the ground and usually marked by a tombstoneRelated adjective: sepulchral
  2. something resembling a grave or resting placethe ship went to its grave
  3. the grave a poetic term for death
  4. have one foot in the grave informal to be near death
  5. to make someone turn in his grave or to make someone turn over in his grave to do something that would have shocked or distressed (someone now dead)many modern dictionaries would make Dr Johnson turn in his grave

Word Origin

Old English græf; related to Old Frisian gref, Old High German grab, Old Slavonic grobǔ; see grave ³


  1. serious and solemna grave look
  2. full of or suggesting dangera grave situation
  3. important; crucialgrave matters of state
  4. (of colours) sober or dull
  5. phonetics
    1. (of a vowel or syllable in some languages with a pitch accent, such as ancient Greek) spoken on a lower or falling musical pitch relative to neighbouring syllables or vowels
    2. of or relating to an accent (`) over vowels, denoting a pronunciation with lower or falling musical pitch (as in ancient Greek), with certain special quality (as in French), or in a manner that gives the vowel status as a syllable nucleus not usually possessed by it in that position (as in English agèd)Compare acute (def. 8), circumflex
  1. a grave accent
Derived Formsgravely, adverbgraveness, noun

Word Origin

C16: from Old French, from Latin gravis; related to Greek barus heavy; see gravamen


verb graves, graving, graved, graved or graven (tr) archaic
  1. to cut, carve, sculpt, or engrave
  2. to fix firmly in the mind

Word Origin

Old English grafan; related to Old Norse grafa, Old High German graban to dig


  1. (tr) nautical to clean and apply a coating of pitch to (the bottom of a vessel)

Word Origin

C15: perhaps from Old French grave gravel


adjective, adverb
  1. music to be performed in a solemn manner

Word Origin

C17: from Italian: heavy, from Latin gravis
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for grave


Old English græf "grave, ditch, cave," from Proto-Germanic *graban (cf. Old Saxon graf, Old Frisian gref, Old High German grab "grave, tomb;" Old Norse gröf "cave," Gothic graba "ditch"), from PIE root *ghrebh- "to dig, to scratch, to scrape" (cf. Old Church Slavonic grobu "grave, tomb"); related to grafan "to dig" (see grave (v.)).

"The normal mod. representation of OE. græf would be graff; the ME. disyllable grave, from which the standard mod. form descends, was prob. due to the especially frequent occurrence of the word in the dat. (locative) case. [OED]

From Middle Ages to 17c., they were temporary, crudely marked repositories from which the bones were removed to ossuaries after some years and the grave used for a fresh burial. "Perpetual graves" became common from c.1650. To make (someone) turn in his grave "behave in some way that would have offended the dead person" is first recorded 1888.


1540s, from Middle French grave (14c.), from Latin gravis "weighty, serious, heavy, grievous, oppressive," from PIE root *gwere- "heavy" (cf. Sanskrit guruh "heavy, weighty, venerable;" Greek baros "weight," barys "heavy in weight," often with the notion of "strength, force;" Old English cweorn "quern;" Gothic kaurus "heavy;" Lettish gruts "heavy"). Greek barys (opposed to kouphos) also was used figuratively, of suffering, sorrow, sobbing, and could mean "oppressive, burdensome, grave, dignified, impressive." The noun meaning "accent mark over a vowel" is c.1600, from French.


"to engrave," Old English grafan (medial -f- pronounced as "v" in Old English; past tense grof, past participle grafen) "to dig, carve, dig up," from Proto-Germanic *grabanan (cf. Old Norse grafa, Old Frisian greva, Dutch graven, Old High German graban, German graben, Gothic graban "to dig, carve"), from the same source as grave (n.). Its Middle English strong past participle, graven, is the only part still active, the rest of the word supplanted by its derivative, engrave.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

grave in Medicine


  1. Serious or dangerous, as a symptom or disease.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with grave


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.